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Film Review: Koyaanisqatsi

Koyaanisqatsi is the first of a trilogy of -qatsi movies (qatsi meaning life in another language) and is an audio/visual treat. With all these films, the emphasis is on taking you on a journey through music and the images on your screen.

This film deals with “life out of balance” as is starts off showing various landscapes in awesome detail, cloudscapes rolling by and not a single human in sight. It then abruptly cuts to massive tractors upheaving the ground and large land explosions for oil and ore. The films relatively dream like for the first half hour as slowly more human contact comes into play and the film takes a more sinister turn of beauty.

Time lapse photography was new when this was originally released but you still haven’t seen some of the sheer beauty in the shots. The DVD cover shot of the moon rising is jaw dropping, the way how the world is almost ant-like in its daily precession is quite humourous and thought provoking at the same time and some of the people who are caught on camera just at certain points reveal in their face a certain freezeframe of their life in just a few seconds.

All of this is completely overscored by Philip Glass who’s music is every bit as important as the visuals on screen. The two melt into eachother perfectly, its really quite something. Some of the music is hypnotic, some of it grand in scale, some of it utterly maddening.

The final part of the movie which shows the Atlas-Centaur rocket exploding and falling to the ground is such a poignant section and really is the perfect part of the movie to assess exactly how open ended the film can be for people. Some people would be saddened, others strangely transfixed on the flaming beauty of it and others maybe proud of humanities attempts.

Koyaanisqatsi is designed to evoke, but never really tell you what to evoke and how and for that its one of the most personal and inspiring films to be seen and heard.

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